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I’m Jill Burzynski and today’s topic is what Medicaid Assets are allowed and should I hide assets to become eligible for Medicaid?

I am often surprised to hear people say that they think Medicaid planning involves hiding assets. Applying for Medicaid benefits without full disclosure of Medicaid assets and asset transfers is a crime. As elder law attorneys we NEVER hide anyone’s assets; rather with our knowledge of the law, we are able to assist families in preserving assets so that a person can become eligible without depleting the families assets, particularly when there is a spouse at risk of impoverishment.

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Knowledgeable elder law attorneys know how Medicaid assets are counted, and may be able to reposition assets in order to fully utilize exemptions.

Transferring the assets to family members in order to become impoverished can be a very costly mistake….particularly when care needs are imminent. Because many people know that Medicaid has asset limitations, they believe that they do well to impoverish themselves by giving their money or their property to family members. However, gifting during the five year look-back will cause problems with eligibility, particularly in a crisis. Annual exclusion gifts of $15,000 per beneficiary is a tax concept and is definitely not applicable as a Medicaid planning strategy. When money or property is gifted during the look-back period, and eligibility is needed, the best option is for the family member to give back the money or property. If this is not possible, then an application with full disclosure must be made and it will be denied. It must be denied for no other reason but for the gift. The Department of Children and Families (the entity in Florida that processes Medicaid applications) will assess a penalty period based upon the amount gifted divided by the penalty divisor (currently $9,171) to determine months of ineligibility. The applicant must privately pay for care during the period of ineligibility. After the period of ineligibility, then another Medicaid application must be filed.

Knowledgeable elder law attorneys have an arsenal of tools that assists families doing preplanning and also families that find themselves in crisis. Pre-crisis planning allows families to fully understand the decisions that they are making and understand the options. When families wait until a crisis to get important information they are often too stressed to effectively implement plans.

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